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A narrative of service with the Third Wisconsin Infantry/Wounded and in hospital

< A narrative of service with the Third Wisconsin Infantry

Wounded and in Hospital

When we had first come within range of the grape-shot, my scabbard had been struck and cut in two at a point just below where I grasped it with my left hand. Later, when my men had sheltered themselves and had commenced firing, I was again struck. I was at the time resting on one knee in a position where I could watch the battery, and direct our fire upon it, for I was determined that the enemy should not have an opportunity to take it away so long as we had a chance to capture it. My attention had just been called to something on the left, when a bullet struck the front of my cap, cutting the figure "3" out of the bugle, and glancing from the bone, cut a gash across my forehead. For a time I lost all interest in that battle. When I regained my feet, Colonel Hawley, who was standing near, told me to get back to the hospital. I succeeded in finding my way to a small ravine that we had crossed, thinking as I got back of the line, that there were a thousand bullets flying, to every one nearer the front. At the small brook in the ravine, I tried to wash off the blood which was blinding me, but had such poor success that I concluded to follow the Colonel's advice and have the wound dressed. I considered it not much of a clip, and thought that in three days at the most I would be back with my company. It was about two months before I rejoined, and a good many years before I entirely recovered.

On my way back to the hospital, I met in succession General Williams who commanded the Division, General Hooker who commanded the Corps, General Thomas who commanded the Army of the Cumberland, and General Sherman who commanded the Department. Each stopped and asked if I was much hurt—when I told that it was only a scratch, they were eager for information as to the situation at the front. I explained that we had driven the artillerymen from their guns, but that the infantry in their breastworks had been too much for us. Then each kindly told me to go to the hospital.

At the hospital I found Dr. Conley, our Regimental Surgeon, who dressed my wound and gave me a blanket to lie down on. I got away to one side and tried to sleep, but the Doctor disturbed me so often to look at my wound that this was impossible. I finally lost all patience with him and ordered him to let me alone; but he afterwards explained that he feared I would go to sleep and wake up in the next world.

This fight is known in the North as the Battle of Dallas, or the Battle of Pumpkinvine Creek, and in the South as the Battle of New Hope Church. In the engagement, our Regiment lost eighteen men killed and ninety-two wounded. This loss was quite unevenly distributed among the companies. Mine had sixteen men severely wounded, two of whom subsequently died. Company A, on my left, had six men killed and twenty-one wounded. Captain Hunter of Company F was wounded by a canister shot, in one of his legs near the knee-joint, and died shortly after. Captain Ruger of the Brigade staff also received a severe wound in the knee, which incapacitated him for further service during the war.

On the afternoon of the day following the battle, I thought I was strong enough to go back to my Regiment. So I started out, against the protests of the surgeons; but after going about a quarter of a mile, my legs gave out, and I was obliged to return and obey directions. I remained at the field hospital for about three and a half days. During most of that time the surgeons were busy at the amputating table. On the morning of the 29th all of the slightly wounded were sent off with the wagon train. The more seriously wounded were sent off late in the afternoon in the ambulances. Captains Hunter, Ruger, and I went in the same ambulance, I was on the seat with the driver.

At Kingston, where we arrived on the 30th, a long train of freight cars for the slightly wounded, and hospitals cars for the severely wounded was waiting, ready to start for Chattanooga. Captain Hunter was, however, too ill to go, and I would not leave him, so we waited over together until June 2. The ride to Chattanooga was a very severe one for poor Hunter, and he appeared to be much the worse for it. He recovered temporarily under the careful treatment at Chattanooga, of Doctor Persons of the First Wisconsin Cavalry, but on June 8 began to sink rapidly, and died on the afternoon of the following day.

My wound was not dangerous, yet it was serious enough to entitle me to a leave of absence. I took advantage of it to return for a pleasant week to my Wisconsin home; then rejoined my Regiment near the Chattahoochee River on July 17. During my absence it had followed the fortunes of the Twentieth Corps, having had no hard fighting and but few casualties on the picket line. The term of service of the men who had not reënlisted had expired on June 29, and they had been mustered out. The officers in the various regiments, however, who wished to be mustered out, found themselves conscripted for a longer term. Their applications had been approved until they had reached General Thomas; but he had forwarded them to Washington with recommendations for dishonorable discharge. Discovering this danger, the officers had withdrawn their applications. A number in the Twenty-Ninth Pennsylvania had, however, been dishonorably discharged under such circumstances, and at the time this seemed to us an injustice.